How long did you date/were you engaged? Why is the timeline so long now?

I have been thinking about this lately and comparing my own timeline for these things to that of friends’ children. My ds has no S.O. so I have no experience with my own kid. @conmama’s post about her ds getting engaged and her feelings about it spurred me to pose these questions as things seem so different now.

I did not meet dh until I was working after college. We dated about ten months and then got engaged. We had planned about a 7-month engagement though that period got shortened and my wedding scaled down drastically when my parents died during our engagement.

Most people I knew in my peer group who dated a long time before getting engaged had been either high school or college sweethearts. People who found their to-be spouses after college seemed to date about a year or a year and a half before getting engaged. Back in my era a 6-8 months-long engagement was considered long. And, one generally only had a long engagement if there were going to have a pretty grand wedding.

It now seems that both the dating timeline prior to engagement and the engagement period itself have gotten incredibly protracted. Maybe it is because living together prior to marriage is more prevalent now?? Maybe it is because weddings, overall, seem to be more “involved,” than they used to be? I know several young people in ds’s age range and older who have been living together for a couple of years, and they aren’t even engaged yet. Some have even bought homes together! I honestly don’t get it.

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My older daughter was my flower girl, so obviously I’m not one for tradition. Ha. I think all of our peer group friends dated for multiple years before getting engaged- 3/4 wouldn’t have felt uncommon. Then there were usually around a year till the wedding. There were no grand weddings among us. I think more people had to save for their modest weddings. My sister is a decade younger than me and has been living with her fiancé for around 5 years now- they got engaged about six months ago and there is no wedding planning happening yet.


Our dating timeline was long, our engagement not so long.

Started dating when I was nearing the end of my senior year of high school - H to be was already in college. Dated all through college (separate colleges about an hour-ish apart). So dated total 5 years before getting engaged. I graduated December 1980, got engaged spring (?) 1981, married November 1981.

I’ll be honest I don’t remember a lot of the details but don’t think it was rushed or anything. Back then for us anyway engagement meant, securing a date at the church, booking a small reception spot, printing invites and sending them out, picking out flowers/dress/attendees, probably not even having a lot of say in the food the venue served! A quick registry, randomly pick a honeymoon spot. My brother took our wedding photos. Really, the length of engagements and all the wedding amenities today are controllable to a degree if you wish - but people wish for more details adding to the work!

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We got engaged 7 months after we met and started dating, but we had a long engagement. 20 months. I wanted to graduate college first. I was 21 when I got married! Seems so young now


I met DH on a blind date and he is 8 1/2 years older than me. We started dating in September 1993, moved in together 8 hours away in September 1994, engaged that December and married in October of 1995. I was 23. It didn’t seem all that fast or slow, just one day after the next.

I hate to sound like a Luddite but I think social media and online dating have made it harder to meet the right person. I have a cousin who met his wife on an online dating site but they ended up having friends in common anyway. I think it would be hard to weed through the people who misrepresent themselves. Plus, with the divorce rate as high as it is, I think younger generations are more likely to have experienced divorce growing up and it makes them more cautious.


Engaged after eight months, engaged for 10 months.

Engaged after 4 years, married a year later. D actually had the same timeline … but I married at 23 & she was 29.

Engaged after close to 4 years of dating, engaged for 18 months.

DH lived on my hall freshman year of college (he was a junior). We were inseparable from our first meeting. We married a year and a half after I graduated. Our engagement was long because there was a year wait for the historic chapel we wanted to be married in. I was 23, he was 24. Had our first and only child right around the time DH was turning 40. We’ll be married 40 years this October.


I met DH during my junior year of college. He is five years older than me. We dated for 8 months and were engaged for 10 months. We married the summer after I graduated from college.

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H and I met in April and got married November of the following year—will be married for 40 years this November.


My husband and I started dating each other after college (we’ve known each other since middle school), got married 5 years later after a 6 month engagement. We were 28, most of our friends weren’t married yet. My 24 year old has been dating her boyfriend for 3 years I think (he’s 31), I don’t see an engagement coming soon. Four if my kids have had several longer term relationships, all lasting 1 - 3 years, I doubt any of them will get married before 30 (fingers crossed).

ETA I live in a NJ outside of NYC here, folks tend to get married later. I don’t think it’s to save for a reception, even though most are pretty lavish.

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Dated (long distance) for a year; moved in together at the 1 year mark and got engaged about 9 months after that. So, dated 1 year 9 months. Engaged a little less than a year. About 3 years from first meeting until we got married. We were both 36, but still not the last of our friends to tie the knot. Most of my friends got married after thirty (we’re in the Northeast).

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Dated 3.5 yrs (med school). Engaged 5 days (internship). Married in a church. D1 says that the engagement/marriage decision comes when there is a crossroad. Ours was where each of us was going to do a residency.


We met shortly after I had graduated from college. H had one more year to go. A year and a half later we were engaged and married about nine months after that.

The thing is, we never lived in the same state until we were married. Because H attended a service academy and was then in the military we had very limited in person time together. It was mostly letters and expensive phone calls…

I was advised that because we spent so little time together I was making a mistake (that was from many people including my own mother the night before the wedding - thanks for the vote of confidence!)

Our 41st wedding anniversary is coming up in a few months.


Husband and I were 34 when we met. Got engaged probably about 3-4 months after we met, married about 6 months after that (once I’d finished residency). We were old - we knew what we wanted.

I’ve seen for many years now, in lower to working class people, indefinite periods of “engagement” (at least according to the women, who knows what the men thought it was), while having a number of children together. Only rarely have I seen this actually lead to marriage. I think that this originated in the likely loss of social welfare benefits (subsidized housing, medical care, food) if a couple married, which I think continues to be a factor. But I’ve seen this practice extend into the middle class more recently, too.

As for prolonged engagements between educated young people who fully intend to marry and have children after marriage, I think that they’re viewing marriage as the thing to do before having children, not as the thing to do before living together for many years, and buying homes together. Engagements may be something they do to satisfy the parents, and to have a sense of commitment to each other without the actual legal commitment of marriage.

Interesting how the pandemic has affected this. I’ve seen more recently young people who just moved ahead quickly with very small weddings, or even civil ceremony elopements, because they wanted to be married, more than to have a wedding. What a funny concept! The very idea that a wedding should be about getting and being married, rather than about a tremendous party with a life and momentum of its own!


My husband and I started dating when I was 16 (and he was 17) we got engaged after 7 years of being together. We had a very short engagement, maybe 3-4 months. Our priority was buying a house. Once we found one, we got engaged and then married right away. We were both still living with our parents at the time.

I am seeing a combination of timelines with young people (my friend’s kids and my kid’s friends). Some are having long engagements (planning a wedding 12-18 months out into the future.) Some have jumped on getting married (basically eloping) right after announcing their engagement.

I met and married my husband within a year of meeting him. I didn’t want anyone else to have a chance to see how wonderful he was :wink:. Been married 34 years. Never regretted anything.

I know a physician who is having his second child with his girlfriend. No marriage. Don’t consider him to be lower class just because he’s had children without marriage.

My kids lived/live with their significant others for several years. One is happily married and the other is happily living with their SO.

My parents were devout Catholics and did not approve of living together. “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free”. My kids never asked me to approve of them living together and I raised them to have a career (not a job until you got married) and to be able to make their own decisions.

My mom still doesn’t like that her grandkids live with their SO’s.


So my parents met and married within 7 days! They were married 70 years.

I met my husband in October when we were Freshmen in college. We dated until 6 months before we graduated, got engaged then (my parents said they wanted us engaged no more than 6 months before the wedding) and married the day before graduation. Everyone came to the wedding and the graduation! We have been married 45 years last month.

My 24yo daughter has a 15 month old and lives with the baby’s father. No plans to marry. They are still trying to figure out if the relationship will work. I have no issues with her waiting because I really don’t think this guy is going to last.

My 22yo son met his girlfriend the second week he was at college. They have been together all 4 years. He just finished his first year of veterinary school and she is taking a gap year before going to PA school. They plan to go to Europe next summer and get engaged. Then 2 years later when he has finished vet school and she has finished PA school they will get married. It will either be just before he starts his internship or during a break in it. They don’t want to get married before they can afford to live on their own and not be in school so the longer timeline. They don’t live together (but spend a LOT of time together), will be apart for 2 years, then marry. Seems like a good plan to us. They are saving and making sure they do everything when they can afford to.

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A lot has changed since we were “young” :smile:

I don’t know very many couples who get married young. Most of them are at least several years out of college. Many more attend grad school and the women want to get careers established. Almost all of the younger ( 20’s and 30’s) couples live together before marriage. This was the case for D and SIL. The biggest surprise is that both my parents and in-laws who would have been very angry if WE had done that were very chill. On H’s side a few of the other grandkids had done the “living together” life so they broke the ice.

I think the meaning of the term “fiance/e” has changed, though. Back in the day it meant a proposal, a ring and a plan for a wedding (if not a date set). Now I hear it used by a lot of unmarried couples who have children together but no plans to marry.

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